My quest to start a whoopie pie stand of my very own in a Chicago farmers market.
I just got back from LA yesterday and am still in weather shock – I went from beautiful, sunny 75-degree days to a comparatively bone-chilling and windy 40-degree commute to work this morning. 😦 I used to not pay all that much attention to the weather, but I think as I get older I’ve started to really appreciate it when it’s good and really despise it when it’s bad.
But I digress. Before leaving last week, my boyfriend, parents, and I pulled what I’m going to call a “White People” and had brunch and then visited a bakery on Sunday afternoon. We went to the austere but homey Birchwood Kitchen and then to Alliance Bakery, both in Wicker Park (remember that silly movie?).
We got every flavor of macaron they had available: pumpkin, hazelnut, strawberry basil, rose, pistachio (not sure if it was the brandy cherry or manjari), and passion fruit.
My mom also couldn’t resist one of their cake pops.
I thought it was a great cake pop, but my parents who
have never had a cake pop don’t remember when I made strawberry chocolate cake balls (a cake pop without a stick) two years ago were expecting more of a cupcake consistency, so they didn’t like it.
My mom did enjoy the hazelnut macaron though. In fact, I think we all did. Intensely nutty, but not chocolaty like Nutella, which I thought was nice. Great texture. In fact, almost all of the macarons had that perfect crisp outer shell, soft interior texture. They really know how to make some quality macaron shells at Alliance. It’s no surprise they also have gorgeous cakes in their front window and have won some pretty impressive awards.
I quite enjoyed the passion fruit, which had a chocolate filling, but the tart-haters in the group (boyfriend and Dad) weren’t fans. I thought it was a nice combo.
Pat had exactly the same reaction when trying the rose flavor as he had last time he tried a rose macaron, which is to say he flipped out a lil’ bit. “Soap! Ugh! Soap! It tastes exactly like soap!” My mother agreed. My dad and I thought it was kind of pleasant though. Definitely not overwhelmingly rose-flavored. Just pleasant and not anything noteworthy, so I probably wouldn’t order it again.
The pistachio was kind of a let-down. No discernible pistachio flavor in the shell, and the filling wasn’t very strong either. Everyone was pretty disappointed in it.
The strawberry basil was verrrrry interesting. The basil hit hard and fast with just a little tang of strawberry, so at least it can’t be said that the flavor was too subtle like the pistachio. We were divided once again though: Pat and mom didn’t like it and thought basil should strictly stick to savory applications. Dad and I thought it was a nice new unique flavor. Not necessarily one I would eat again, but I did like it slightly better than the rose.
As was the case with Bennison’s, the pumpkin was the absolute star of the show. There’s just something about the flavor of pumpkin and the spices that go with it that work so well in macaron form. And the texture of a pumpkin macaron beats the texture of pumpkin pie hands down. I seriously considered going back in to the bakery (we ate outside in their sectioned off seating area) to get another one, but I was pretty stuffed. I would probably go out of my way to eat that pumpkin macaron again though.
Come back soon for some LA ‘RoonReviews and a guest post from NYC!